US 'demands UK hands Prince Andrew over' for questioning in Jeffrey Epstein case

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends church at St Mary the Virgin at Hillington in Sandringham on January 19, 2020 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Prince Andrew has stepped back from royal duties over a disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight. (Getty Images)

American authorities have demanded Prince Andrew be handed over for questioning as a witness in the Jeffrey Epstein case, according to reports.

The US Department for Justice has submitted a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request to the UK Home Office, according to The Sun and US broadcasters.

MLA requests by other states are used to obtain assistance in an investigation or prosecution of criminal offences, generally when cooperation cannot be obtained by law enforcement agencies.

According to the Press Association, the Home Office’s “usual policy” is that the existence of an MLA is neither confirmed or denied.

Andrew has been accused by Virginia Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre, of having sex with her in 2001 after she had been trafficked by Epstein.

Virginia Roberts holds a photo of herself at age 16, when she says Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein began abusing her sexually. (Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Virginia Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre, claims she was trafficked by Epstein. (Getty Images)

Prince Andrew, 60, denies any wrongdoing.

Giuffre has urged the prince to speak to US authorities, but prosecutors in America claim Andrew has failed to respond to their requests.

According to the Daily Mail, Andrew is prepared to launch a fightback on Monday to demonstrate his dealings with US authorities.

Read more: Prince Andrew in rare Instagram post as Sarah Ferguson praises 'united' family

The paper reports he will publish a full account of his dealings with the US DOJ.

A source close to the duke’s legal team told Yahoo UK: “Legal discussions with the DOJ are subject to strict confidentiality rules, as set out in their own guidelines.

“We have chosen to abide by both the letter and the spirit of these rules, which is why we have made no comment about anything related to the DOJ during the course of this year. We believe in playing straight bat.”

The Duke of York stepped back from public duties in November after a disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight in which he said he did not regret his friendship with disgraced financier Epstein.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 18: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends a Christmas lunch for members of the Royal Family hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on December 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Prince Andrew attends a Christmas lunch for members of the Royal Family. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Epstein, 66, took his own life in prison as he awaited trial for sex trafficking.

The MLA comes as an article in The Times shared excerpts of a new book about the prince, including a titbit about his reaction to watching Coronation Street.

The duke is reported to have said: “Oh God, look at all those common people.”

Andrew has barely been seen in public since the interview in November, appearing alongside the Queen at church in January and then popping up on Sarah Ferguson’s Instagram page on a couple of occasions.

He told prosecutors in the US he was prepared to help with their inquiries, but they say he has not cooperated.

Read more: Prince Andrew 'won't return to public duties' after Epstein friendship scandal

Geoffrey Berman, who is leading the Epstein inquiry, told reporters in March: “Contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary co-operation and our office is considering its options.”

Giuffre says the prince had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law.

Last week it emerged the duke will not be brought back to royal duties, despite reports he had hoped to return to his public work one day.